Here’s the latest on a wide range of innovation in the Edmonton region.

Edmonton orgs and entrepreneurs get investment and accolades at Inventures

The Inventures conference in Calgary earlier this month yielded some good news for Edmonton organizations and entrepreneurs.

Alberta Innovates announced an investment of $9.1 million into 15 projects through its Ecosystem Development Pilot Program. Among the funding that was announced:

  • $750,000 over three years for Startup TNT for its investor training and Access to Capital program
  • $600,000 over 26 months for Digital Alberta to develop an interactive digital media ecosystem;
  • $500,000 over three years for Energy Futures Lab for ecosystem development in equitable energy;
  • $300,000 over two years for the European-Canadian Centre for Innovation and Research to connect Alberta companies with European partners to scale business and speed up commercialization;
  • $90,000 over eight months for strategic planning at the University of Alberta for the Shared Innovation Group for Hard Technologies (SIGHT).

GrowthX received $1 million over two years to power The Alberta Innovates Revenue Accelerator, which just announced its first cohort. The Edmonton-based companies include eMotors Direct IncElementiam Materials And Manufacturing Inc.Air TrailAreto LabsFairly Staffing, and What’s the Deal?.

Of the Edmonton companies that participated in the Inventures pitch eventsNanostics was the big winner, topping the “Gamechanging Health” stream and Elev won the Bow Valley College 2022 Student Pitch Competition. Shelvie Fernan of Fly and Fetch was one of four winners of the HerStory competition put on by The51 and Alberta Innovates in Banff.

The Innovate Edmonton team was there in full force, demonstrating how Edmonton innovations are making a difference and taking in the grand opening of Platform Calgary’s new space.

Funding & Support for Entrepreneurship

  • Applications are now open for a series of $2,500 bursaries from MindFuel for Grade 12 students and people aged 18 and older entering their first year of an undergraduate STEM-related program in Alberta, Saskatchewan, or Manitoba. “Breaking down economic barriers to an education in STEM and innovation is critical for the future of Canada’s economic and social prosperity because it supports our mission of building Canada’s youth innovation talent pipeline,” said CEO Cassy Weber.


CleanTech & Climate Emergency

  • Nicolas Olmedo, a co-founder of Copperstone Technologies, has received the Mitacs Outstanding Entrepreneur Award for his work in developing intelligent robots that traverse hazardous terrain such as industrial mine tailing ponds so that humans don’t have to. The University of Alberta spinoff company’s amphibious cleantech robots can collect samples and perform geotechnical measurements needed for monitoring cleanup efforts.
  • Commerce South Office Park – Building B was recognized as a leader in energy efficiency by ENERGY STAR Canada. It was named a “building of the year” in the office category of existing commercial and institutional buildings demonstrating energy efficiency.

Digital Inclusion & Education

  • Funke Smith, Founder and CEO of Skillcity Institute, has started a free STEM and career exploration lab called STEMCEL inside the C5 family network hub at the Clareview Recreation Centre to help expose students to the opportunities offered by science, technology, engineering, and math. “We are able to support young people who maybe might be out-of-school youth who might need to do subjects that they want to now pick up to be able to go to post-secondary,” Smith told City News. “We give them some career guidance, and help them to do macro-credentials, get scholarships, whatever items that they need.”
  • MacEwan University has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Edmonton International Airport to collaborate on new internship and research opportunities for students and faculty and “create new jobs through innovation.” The school recently signed similar agreements with the Edmonton Elks, a handful of domestic and international hydrogen companies, and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
  • Sahr Saffa announced the first cohort of speakers, investors, and mentors who will be at the C-Tribe x Tech event during C-Tribe Festival where “underestimated founders learn how to start, grow and scale their companies.”

Food Security & Agtech

Public Health

  • MIC Medical Imaging (MIC), which offers radiology services throughout Alberta, has partnered with Voyce Canada to provide remote, on-demand access to trained and certified interpreters, so patients can interact with staff in more than 240 languages, including American Sign Language. The companies were connected through Health Cities. “Not only are we introducing a new company to Alberta’s health innovation market, this project addresses challenges facing care providers and increases equity and access to care,” said CEO Reg Joseph in a release.
  • Thanks to a grant from Alberta Innovates, a team of researchers at the University of Alberta will continue to develop a dental ultrasound system to better detect dental disease. “Having a 2D image is like being in the forest with no bearings and no idea what’s going on in the neighbourhood,” Principal Investigator Lawrence Le told Folio. “By transforming 2D images into 3D images, we will be able to really look around at different angles, giving a view of the soft tissue, blood flow and bone.”
  • Enoch Cree Nation and Surgical Centres Inc. have announced plans to build a chartered surgical facility on the reserve to perform publicly funded hip and knee surgeries. A contract with Alberta Health Services is still being finalized, but the plan has the blessing of UCP government, with the expectation that it will offer about 3,000 procedures per year. “People are waiting far too long for hip and knee replacements,” said Health Minister Jason Copping. “We need to do a lot more of them and this is going to help us get it done.”

Social Impact

Arts & Culture

  • One of the 16 Edmonton-based employees of Keywords spoke to CBC’s As It Happens about forming Canada’s first video-game workers’ union. “We really hope that we can lead by example and show that there’s really nothing to be afraid of when it comes to unionizing,” said James Russwurm, who discussed concerns around entry-level wages, “crunch culture,” and fair compensation in the industry.
  • The Alberta Comics Anthology from Renegade Arts Entertainment is on the subject of “home” and includes Edmontons imagined by Jeff Martin and Sylvia Moon. “People run away from the place that they grew up as fast as possible, they never want to go back to that place. Or people that have run to somewhere and discovered their home and made their home somewhere new and unexpected,” publisher Alexander Finbow told Taproot. “It’s a very fertile jumping-off point for storytelling, and it ties in nicely with this being our home province.”
  • Longtime social-change activists Rylan Kafara and Spyder Yardley-Jones have created The Lofts, a comic book that outlines the story of the people displaced in the eviction of the A. MacDonald Building northeast of Rogers Place in the ICE District. “The story of Edmonton has really been a story of erasure and displacement and dispossession,” Kafara told Postmedia.

Bits & Pieces

  • Drone Delivery Canada has launched a 12-month term for its commercial delivery operations in partnership with the Edmonton International Airport. The Ontario-based company will be using drones to transport cargo for the logistics companies Ziing Final Mile and Apple Express to designated landing zones from its base in the Leduc County industrial park. “(We’re) proud to be the first airport in Canada to have commercial drone delivery services in full operation. Our partnership with DDC is helping create a flight path forward for this growing industry,” said Myron Keehn, Vice-President of Business Development with EIA.

Other Mentions

This Blast is brought to you by Innovate Edmonton in partnership with Taproot Publishing.